Sunday, August 28, 2016

Job Security--If Only I Could Remember!

Here's (one of the many) great things about being an elementary art teacher--it's always someone's first time to ____________.  There are always going to be children who've never held scissors, or painted, or used papier mache.  This is job security!  In our technology/digital world art teachers are needed more than ever! Fine motor skills are important and creativity is vital! Now, if only I could remember this when I start lessons at the beginning of the year.  Yesterday I started Emily Carr landscape paintings with fourth grade and didn't demonstrate painting techniques at all! What is this? My first day?! Needless to say, I demo'd the heck out of some painting with my fourth graders today, and wrote DEMO in my plan book for fourth grade on Monday.
I also made a sketchbook measurement how to video for sixth grade (probably more for me and my remembering):


What would really be great would be to show this video to my classes on my Smartboard, but (GASP!) my Smartboard is not recognizing my computer these days.  Even with our tech person working on it, it's not happening.  On the plus side, our district started using Schoology this year, and my lack-of-Smartboard-having means I'm dropping things into Schoology and using that resource the second week of school.  But THAT means students have to carry their chromebooks to art AND I have to remember to email teachers to tell them.  And we all know remembering isn't always my strongest suit! 

What am I going to be like in 10-15 years? Forgetting to wear pants to school?  The older I get, the more I realize that art teachers may deserve the reputation as the kooky ones.  Or maybe it's just me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Starting Out with Sketchbooks

Let me just start out by saying, the things I forget from year to year could fill a book! A large volume at that.  There's always that adjustment period of remembering the pace of the day, but REALLY, I forget so much year to year, and even if I write it down I most likely never look at it later.  This is what happens after this many years, I guess.  So 'comfortable' with what I'm doing that reviewing the steps seems unnecessary until I get into it and think 'whhhhaaa? How is this supposed to work again?'  Case in point: the sketchbooks that my sixth graders make and use all year.  I blogged about it last year two years ago, and last year made the decision to make them half size.  This translates to cutting cereal boxes to 10 x 13" pieces (which I didn't remember resulting in having to cut several twice to get the size right). The first day of art we had time to go over the rules & procedures, then add our wet and stick tape:

Students folded their cereal boxes "like a card"
then put the wet and stick tape (sticky side down) on the folded edge--
this will be the spine of their sketchbook.
Little tip: have them cut the wet and stick to size,
and THEN hand out waters cups--otherwise your
rolls of tape will be ruined.
The second day of art students have started working on their covers (just drawings or designs).  Those are in the works now, and I have BIG PLANS for the back cover.  I made a video for students on Gelli printing with Payons:


The next time they come to art they'll be working on their covers, measuring their space for sewing in their pages, counting out their pages and Gelli printing in small groups (I only have five Gelli plates).
A few years ago, I ordered this:

Sorry for the sidewayness, although it looks ancient,
I really did get it last year.
The plan is to team-teach this part with sixth grade teachers, but I wanted to try it out and so I made this video explaining the setup:


Students won't see my final result until after theirs is done, but we're all adults, right?!  Here's mine after sun exposure and a cold water bath (and drying overnight):

It's going to be GREAT.  While the fast pace of the day leaves me a little woozy sometimes, being an elementary art teacher really is the best. I wish you all smooth starts to the beginning of your school years, interesting students, and loads of cash.  Hey, a teacher can dream, right?!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ready or Not, HERE THEY COME!

If you've taught for a bit you know that back to school means more meetings than prep time, and if you're one of those come-weeks-early-and-get-your-room-perfectly-prepared then this is probably not the post for you.
Here's my room two days before students return:

Randomness abounds and NOTHING is up on the walls.  No new supplies in bins.  See those piles in the foreground on the table?  Those are all the sketchbooks that need copying.  I did try to copy them, and broke/jammed the copier.  Twice.
I did get two real things accomplished before Meet Your Teacher:

The hallway bulletin board that every child getting off the bus sees.
And my poster outside my door for this year:

The black strips are photos of student projects made to look like
old film strips--all thanks to my fabulous with Photo Shop husband.

It will all come together, I promise.  This year WILL BE FABULOUS.  Students will learn, time will march on.
Happy art teaching, friends! Hold on to your hats!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

I've Been Called Lots of Things, But

--never "disorganized".  Now, my organizational process and procedures have been know to drive people nuts (talking to you, Mom), but I have a system! I have a plan! (even though the plan/system may be 'leave it right here on the table/desk until I need it four months from now').  All that said because I'm thinking about my goals and plans for the upcoming school year. This year, I will once again be in two buildings, which means I need to know EXACTLY which day we're on of the rotation so I'll show up to the correct building.  And for the first time ever, my budget was cut.  By A LOT--almost in half.  I have been incredibly lucky for the past 16 years to be able to order pretty much anything I've needed/wanted, so this reduction was stunning.  Like, STUNNING, how do people have quality programs on so little? Which (of course) means I have to shift my mindset about what I'm doing this year.  No screen printing in sixth grade.  No botanical cuts for our rainforest project in second grade. No new Playcolor tempera paint sticks. It's rough, and I'm feeling a wee bit discouraged.  But have no fear, my perpetual optimism always wins, and we'll do some amazing things this school year no matter what.
There's so many things to think about and plan for:
I'm toying with a few ideas for my new outside my room poster this year.  The interactive poster from last year was a big hit, and I'd like something as positive/popular this year, so look for a post about that soon(ish).
My daughter starts kindergarten (at my school!) this year, and that's going to be totally awesome. I do have a bit of fear about the pace of the day--getting the kids ready and planning for my classes, which is ridiculous because we have only one drop off now (our youngest to the babysitter's right by school).  It really will be fine, but when we've had such a relaxing summer, the idea of planning for eight classes a day seems impossible.
And finally, guess who's the new elementary department chair in my district? That's correct, it IS yours truly! It's been a while (nearly 10 years) since I last did held this title (in my last district) but it'll be good. I'm looking forward to reading some books on effective leadership and education in the 21st century (I just started FutureWise, Educating Our Children for a Changing World) to be the best leader I can be for our elementary art department--they deserve no less.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

I Really Need This Book

Note the thrown rain boot in the background.
Never a dull moment around here.

Found at my local library (see previous post about our twice weekly visits): What Elephant? by Geneviève Côté.  I'd like to lie to you and say it just came out, but it's been around for ten years apparently.  That library! Always a place to make new book friends!
It's a sweet little tale about a boy (George) who comes home to find an elephant in his house but none of his friends believe him so he thinks he must be losing his marbles. ("Elephants don't read newspapers!")
I. Need. This. Book. For kindergarten! I don't know exactly how I'll use it yet, but I've got a few ideas.  Beautiful illustrations and wonderfully written, what's not to love??? Kindergarten lives for possibilities and secrets (like an elephant hidden in your bedroom closet).  
I'm so excited! A quick internet search and it could be mine for as low as . . . $3.99.  Worth every penny.
Oh, and it has a bit of a lesson about believing yourself and your own eyes (and all the ignoring-the-elephant-in-the-room bit that only the adult will get). So many directions I could go with this--I can't wait!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Frozen in the Summer

Aaahhhh, SUMMER! Glorious, glorious summer!  So much free time! Beautiful weather (it's been miserably hot and humid here), time for household projects, artwork and reading . . . except lately I've been frozen.  Like, unable to finish anything.  Case in point, the almost finished medicine cabinet doors hanging out in my garage, ready for a smidge more sanding and wood filling and a final coat of paint.  I just walk around them.  Or the front porch light fixture I was planning to take apart, spray paint and reassemble.  I cleaned it with TSP on the HOTTEST, HUMID-ist day of the year, and thought 'ugh, too much work!'
Or the patio chairs I got from the side of the road to refinish--they're sitting in the backyard, holding up the new sprinkler, and every time I see them I get a sinking feeling.  Do I really want to tackle this project?  How much sanding a spray painting can one person handle?
Does the downstairs bathroom really need painting? Who really goes in there anyway (and do they even notice the color of the wall?)?
With all that home improving I planned to do, I decided to (of course) make a quick rag quilt for my daughter, and she LOVES it, but don't look too closely or you'll see many mistakes.  It was my first rag quilt, so of course I have to make one for my youngest, but then my sewing machine started acting up . . . I just walked away from that, for everyone's safety (an angry mom throwing a sewing machine isn't good for ANYONE).
I've got piles and piles of Gelli prints ready for photographing and listing in my Etsy shop, but somehow I never get around to it.
I've spent a couple of days reading all day (like ALL DAY, ain't no one got time for lunch around here) and I've taken my kids places (really by places I mean the library 2x a week, but it counts). I also forced myself to buy a swimsuit and that took DAYS of preparation because swimsuit shopping at my age is BRUTAL (and WHY can't stores have better lighting in their dressing rooms?!).
These are the moments where I wonder, what WILL retirement be like for me? Will I wander aimlessly from project to project, never finishing anything?  Will I have a sense of direction, or will I feel unfulfilled? Will I be 'that crazy retired art teacher'? (Come on, you know her, we all do.) Will someone tell me if I cross over into crazy territory? And (the bigger question) will I care?
Enjoy your aimless, relaxing, fun (or reading filled) summer, friends, it goes way too fast.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

I Need About a Million Dollars

Because, you guys, I have a blue toilet.  Baby blue, not royal or dark blue.  Circa 1989.  See, when school's in session, I'm busy and don't have time be distracted with stuff around the house, but when summer comes I'm all about the home front (alternate titles for this post include: What Can't Paint Do? or Curse You, HGTV!) and all those things from my 1989 house bug me.  Last summer I worked on my kitchen and then in the fall I painted the main bathroom (the one with the powder blue toilet).  This summer I decided I'd use up some paint leftover from those projects in our basement half bath (read: not spend any more money).  This includes painting a gold light fixture with Rust-Oleum oil rubbed bronze spray paint that I'm using for everything these days. But I want NEW stuff--new [white] toilet, new garage doors, new dishwasher (to replace the original-to-the-house-one), new countertops . . .the list goes on.  SIGH, I do not have $ for all these things.  Hence, the need for about a million dollars.
Or blinders or an appreciation for 1989.
To distract me from such problems this week: an upcoming council meeting for my new-ish elementary division position, gardening, lots of fun summer fiction reading, playtime with my own children (they're SO FUN this summer),sewing and art making.  In short, lots of relaxation and whatever I feel like doing whenever I feel like doing it.
Enjoy your summer, friends, it goes by too quickly!

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